Could endless turmoil in Chicago be pushing Wade (and Butler) closer to the Heat?

 

 

The drama continues to mount for the Chicago Bulls and Dwyane Wade. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The drama continues to mount for the Chicago Bulls and Dwyane Wade. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

MINNEAPOLIS – Dwyane Wade’s homecoming has not been all warm and fuzzy like he expected.

Wade and Jimmy Butler ripping their teammates’ effort and desire; a scathing rebuttal by Rajon Rondo questioning Wade’s and Butler’s leadership; a city that really hasn’t embraced their native son like many believed; a below-.500 (25-26) record; and now this – reports that Butler believes assistant coach Randy Brown is a management mole in the locker room.

Now the question: Is all the drama, the bickering, the accusations, pushing Wade (and possibly Butler) closer to Miami?

The latest: According to a report last week in the Chicago Sun-Times, Butler told teammates not to criticize management in front of assistant coach Randy Brown suggesting that Brown was acting as a spy for general manager Gar Forman and snitching on players. His reports would help the Bulls build cases against their players during contract negotiations.

And although on the day after he and Butler threw every one of their teammates under the bus Wade insisted he would not change his decision – “Since I’ve come here, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve been happy,” he said – many remain skeptical.

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Last summer, Wade bolted Miami after 13 seasons, signing a two-year, $47 million contract that includes a player option of $23.8 million for the 2017-18 season. Wade already said he would consider walking away from that option if the Bulls decide to tear it down and start over and many believe the organization is  hoping he does to free up that money.

The one thing that would virtually guarantee Wade does not return is if the Bulls trade Butler.

And Butler’s latest claim could push management closer to moving the player that they decided to build around last summer.

The 6-foot-7 Butler is an elite small forward in the league and will be starting the All-Star game in New Orleans in less than two weeks. But he has developed a reputation as a Diva and a meddler into management’s business. If the Bulls are inclined to blow it up you know Pat Riley and the Heat will at least kick the tires on a deal. And if Miami somehow acquired Butler, Wade certainly would look to return considering how close he and Butler have become.

But so much has changed in the last three weeks for the Heat. Miami (21-30) enters tonight game at Minnesota having won 10 in a row and just two games out of a playoff spot. And one of the biggest reasons is the play of Dion Waiters, the man signed late in the free agency game last summer with the sole purpose of replacing Wade.

Waiters has been one of the best two guards in the league of late, seemingly turning the corner offensively while continuing to excel defensively. And he was rewarded a week ago by being named the Eastern Conference player of the week. Now it’s starting to look like Waiters, at 25 and 10 years younger than Wade, just might be a much better option to sign long term than giving Wade a couple of years or signing any other of the available wings from what will be a mediocre free-agent class.

During the winning streak Waiters is averaging 21.5 points, 4.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the field and 53 percent on 3s.

During the same span Wade is averaging 19.0 points, 4.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 43 percent, 25 percent on 3s.

And acquiring Butler and signing Wade likely would require the Heat using about $33 million of their projected $40 to $55 million in cap space (the latter number of Miami trades Goran Dragic), including $18.7 million for Butler, who is in the second year of a $92.3 million contract.

So who is the better option for the Heat next season at shooting guard? Waiters or Wade?

And would Heat fans like to see the Heat go after Butler?

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